The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service

By Erskine Childers; David Trotter | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVI
The Seven Siels

Selecting the very humblest Gasthaus* I could discover, I laid down my bundle and called for beer, bread, and Wurst.* The landlord, as I had expected, spoke the Frisian dialect,* so that though he was rather difficult to understand, he had no doubts about the purity of my own German high accent. He was a worthy fellow, and hospitably interested: 'Did I want a bed?''No; I was going on to Bensersiel,' I said, 'to sleep there, and take the morning Postschiff* to Langeoog Island.' (I had not forgotten our friends the twin giants and their functions.) 'I was not an islander myself?' he asked. 'No, but I had a married sister there; had just returned from a year's voyaging, and was going to visit her.''By the way,' I asked, 'how are they getting on with the Benser Tief?' My friend shrugged his shoulders; it was finished, he believed. 'And the connection to Wittmund?''Under construction still.' 'Langeoog would be going ahead then?''Oh! he supposed so, but he did not believe in these new-fangled schemes.''But it was good for trade, I supposed? Esens would benefit in sending goods by the "tief"--what was the traffic, by the way?''Oh, a few more barge-loads than before of bricks, timber, coals, etc., but it would come to nothing he knew; Aktiengesellschaften (companies) were an invention of the devil. A few speculators got them up and made money themselves out of land and contracts, while the shareholders they had hoodwinked starved.''There's something in that,' I conceded to this bigoted old conservative; 'my sister at Langeoog rents her lodging-house from a man named Dollmann; they say he owns a heap of land about. I saw his yacht once--pink velvet and electric light inside, they say-----'

'That's the name,' said mine host, 'that's one of them--some sort of foreigner, I've heard; runs a salvage concern, too, Juist way.'

'Well, he won't get any of my savings!' I laughed, and soon after took my leave, and enquired from a passer-by the road to Dornum. 'Follow the railway,' I was told.

With a warm wind in my face from the south-west, fleecy clouds and a half-moon overhead, I set out, not for Bensersiel but for Benser Tief, which I knew must cross the road to Dornum somewhere. A

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